If I could live anywhere in the world. My emphatic answer will always be Europe. No contest. Love me some Europe. Am I smitten? Perhaps. But OBSESSED is more apropos since my heart flutters whenever I daydream about a permanent migration.
My travel map says it all. I'm clearly crushing on this culturally-diverse region. Although I've covered plenty of pinned ground already, I can't possibly justify future cross-Atlantic expeditions without annihilating my savings. I could always go back to the corporate world, but that would be bad. Soul crushing bad.
The solution to my cash-strapped dilemma? French-influenced Quebec City - a cheaper alternative to flying halfway around the world from the Western United States. If European charm is what you're looking for, then Old Quebec fits the bill quite perfectly. Can this setting be any more beguiling?
Old Quebec offers that quintessential European atmosphere I can't possibly live without. Street performers and "old world" stunners such as the Chateau Frontenac contribute to this UNESCO World Heritage site's magnetic appeal.
The following segment chronicles my daily time warp via Saint-Jean Street, Rue du Petit Champlain, Dufferin Terrace, Governor's Promenade, and other pathways reminiscent of historically-rich Europe.
There are many hotspots outside of Old Quebec that deserve mention as well. Did you know that J.A. Moisan is North America's oldest grocery and spice shop? This l'epicerie is one of several stops along my weeklong neighborhood tour.
I spent most of my time meandering through downtown city streets marveling at historical landmarks and European architecture. But after several days, this California native craved a temporary reprieve from all that asphalt and structure.
Quebec Bus Tours provides guided tours to Montmorency Falls for only 35 CAD. This beautiful oasis, a short commute from downtown, was the idyllic retreat I was searching for.
Did you know that Montmorency Falls is 98 feet taller than its Canadian counterpart, Niagara? I couldn't help but gawk at these cascading rapids from both the suspension bridge and lookout point. Thrill seekers can hike the hillside trail or zip-line across this stunning backdrop. Too bad I only had 45 minutes to explore since I would have preferred to roam freely without time constraints.
Foodaholics should also book Quebec City Tours' dégustation excursion to L'ile D'Orleans - a quaint island along the Saint Lawrence river. What's included? 5 gastronomic tastings at Chocolaterie de l'ile d'orleans, Vignoble du Mitan, Ciderie Bilodeau, La Nougaterie, and Cassis Monna & Filles.
Chocolate, ice wine, cider, nougat, and blackberry cassis? Get in my belly! My favorite Canadian treat? Apple Butter from Ciderie Bilodeau. C’est délicieux!
Quebec City offered everything I could possibly want from my 7-day trip: European flair, French-Canadian accents (swoon), nature outings, and sweet/savory treats.
While nothing can fully replace my cross-Atlantic jaunts to Europe, Quebec City combines European fabulousness with Canadian hospitality at a fraction of the cost. Only 6 hours to reach my top Canadian destination? Sign me up....again and again!
To access photo highlights, click here.
Le Continental - featured by Anthony Bourdain in Parts Unknown.
Sapristi - Quartier Petit Champlain, Old-Port
Le Sales Gosses
Le Halles Cartier - Food Court
J.A. Moison - Oldest Grocery and Spice Shop in North America
Gare du Palais
Parc des Champs de Bataille
Notre Dame Basilica
Marche du Vieux-Port
Rue de Petit Champlain
Hotel d'Ville - Town Hall
Observatoire de la Capital
1) Airport transportation options: I spent roughly 40 CAD (including tip) from Jean Lesage Airport to Hotel PUR (Saint Roch district) via taxi. UBERs are also available, but there were zero drivers when I arrived on a Friday afternoon.
2) Be prepared to walk a lot throughout Old Quebec, especially uphill. Note: The funicular costs 3 CAD for a 25 second ride each way. Worth taking uphill to save your aching joints.
3) Note: Although the US Dollar is currently worth more than the Canadian Dollar, be prepared to pay double taxes (TPS and TVQ) at all retail and food establishments. I was caught off guard, but I did my best to minimize costs.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”